Summer 2014, we hardly knew you. Foreshortened by calendar cruelty that landed Labor Day in its earliest possible slot, you lost half a week off the top. Despite the half-month earlier start brought on by the gravitational lensing of college tuitions, this one just flew by, but not without its moments. Four Phish shows, one with the Bubba, three with George, one with a new phan. One pop show with the nieces (not to be named here), one rap show with the nephew. Animals As Leaders as a summer kickoff in a sweaty low-ceilinged dump on Long Island, a bit of Deep Tank Jersey transported east and forward in time. The EP release of Flux Fortena’s September on which the Bubba plays bass and yours truly has a producer credit. Fishing in Cabo with good friends. Four trips to Boston, three of which involved moving and boxes, all of which included good local fare. Our first Pride Parade in NY, with our daughter who was working for Lambda Legal. Two Broadway shows, a 30th college reunion, a lot of time with cousins and friends. We lost my oldest aunt, and one of those family gatherings was under difficult circumstances, but also served as prelude to a fun afternoon splashing in the pool with my newest cousin (technically first cousin twice removed but we have always relied on the willowy whippiness of the Stern/Shteir family tree for geography, genealogy or gastronomy).
Perhaps the summer seems short because of what I missed: No swim in the Atlantic; no elephant ears from the Crust & Crumb in Beach Haven; no fireworks viewed from the suspense of a rickety lawn chair. I realized these errors of omission in the middle of a cinnamon and sugar bagel at Bruegger’s, sensing it was as close to an elephant ear as I’d get in 2014. It made me think of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” a song that I love for its layered keyboards and its kicking and screaming refusal to open a new 16-month calendar out of fear that you’re leaving the summers of your youth.
Summers are defined as much by their soundtracks as by the live action sequences. Even as we age, and the memories are filtered and sharpened inappropriately, the songs remain the same. Elephant ears are always accompanied by Bob Seger, Peter Frampton, The Sweet and WJRZ in Ship Bottom, replete with the Adventures of Chicken Man at noon and 6 o’clock. Labor Day brings an urge to ignore the signs of aging and just extend the current tour. In my case, the Deadhead sticker is affixed to my Cadillac of a laptop and says “My Other Car Is A Flying Hotdog.” Sometimes the soundtrack bridges the seasons and Labor Day isn’t such a daunting calendar milestone.